Espresso vs Drip Coffee (Know the Differences!)

Stepping into the world of coffee can be overwhelming, it’s like diving into a sea of choices. Your one decision, selecting the bean origin or brewing method can completely change the taste and experience of your cup of coffee.

Among the sea of choices, the two most famous brewing methods are espresso and drip coffee.

If you are a coffee lover you might be aware what’s the difference between these two.

On one hand, you have intense and concentrated shots of espresso while on the other hand, you have the mild and relaxed flavor of drip coffee. But it’s not that simple there’s more to it!

In this article, we will dive deep into the world of Espresso vs Drip coffee, explaining these different brewing methods, machines, tastes, and overall experiences.

So, whether you are a coffee connoisseur or a casual drinker, grab your cup and enjoy this meaningful dive to explore the complexities of these two beloved brewing methods.

Espresso vs Drip coffee

An Overview of Espresso

Espresso refers to a full-flavored coffee. It is a concentrated form of coffee and is served in small amounts.

It is made by an espresso machine in which pressurized hot water is forced through coffee beans. The result is a strong liquid topped with brown foam, “crema”, formed because of the combining of air bubbles and soluble oils of fine ground beans.

Espresso coffee

It has a very intense flavor that not everyone prefers to drink. But this is what it is known for, intense flavor, rich aroma, and high caffeine content.

Most of your favorite coffee drinks including Latte, Americanos, and Cappuccinos are made with an espresso shot as a base.

According to the specialty coffee association, the definition of Espresso is:

Espresso is a 25–35ml (.85–1.2 ounce [×2 for double]) beverage prepared from 7–9 grams (14–18 grams for a double) of coffee through which clean water of 195°–205°F (90.5°–96.1°C) has been forced at 9–10 atmospheres of pressure, and where the grind of the coffee is such that the brew time is 20–30 seconds. While brewing, the flow of espresso will appear to have the viscosity of warm honey and the resulting beverage will exhibit a thick, dark golden crema. Espresso should be prepared specifically for and immediately served to its intended consumer.”

Speciality Coffee Association

An Overview of Traditional Drip Coffee

Drip coffee refers to the regular coffee that most of us make in our homes daily.

Hot water is poured into the water reservoir of the machine which moves upward and is dripped on a filter full of ground coffee. And then the coffee flows out of the machine.

Drip coffee is famous for its nuanced aroma and balanced flavor. It is incredibly common, affordable, and easy to make.

Drip coffee

Unlike espresso, the brewing method of drip coffee doesn’t require precise attention to the process. Anyone can make this coffee, one just needs the drip coffee maker.

difference between espresso and drip coffee

At this point, you have got the idea about the basics of how espresso and drip coffee are two different brewing methods. Now, I’ll walk you through the key differences between the two methods.

1) The taste of Espresso vs Drip coffee

What is stronger coffee or espresso? This is the question often asked!

Espresso has a very intense flavor as compared to drip coffee. It’s the same if you multiply the flavor of drip coffee five times.

For the first time, it might shock your taste buds. But slowly your taste buds will relax and adapt to the new rich taste of coffee. Drinking espresso is a fascinating way to experience the full range of coffee flavors in a few sips.

Drip coffee, however, has a smooth and simple taste, which is not that intense.

2) The Serving Size and the Caffeine content

For a single shot espresso, the serving size is 1-1.25 ounces, and a double shot espresso is 2-2.25 ounces. On the other hand, the regular serving of drip coffee is somewhere between 6 to 10 oz.

As for caffeine content, it largely depends on the type and roast of the beans used. A single shot of espresso typically contains 60-70 mg of caffeine, while an 8-ounce cup of coffee contains 65-120 mg.

So, does drip coffee have more caffeine than espresso?

Yes! A typical serving of drip coffee does have more caffeine than a serving of Espresso. A serving of Drip coffee is stronger than a single shot of Espresso in terms of caffeine content. But remember, espresso is only 1 ounce and coffee is 8 ounces. So, Espresso can surely give you a higher caffeine jolt.

So we can say a serving of Drip coffee is roughly equal to 2 ounces of Espresso (The double shot)

Here’s a detailed guide on coffee caffeine content

3) Versatility of the Drinks

A drip coffee machine can help you in preparing iced coffee, Cafe Au Lait, or some dessert recipes but Espresso is certainly the most versatile coffee drink out there.

If concentrated and dense coffee shots don’t appeal to your taste buds, you can turn to a variety of other coffee drinks. Such as Latte, Cappuccino, Americano, Macchiato, Affogato, and many more.

Read about 30 different types of Espresso drinks

4) The Coffee beans and the Grind size

Many coffee lovers wonder is the difference between espresso and drip coffee beans.

No, there is no difference between Espresso beans and drip coffee beans. You can literally prepare Espresso with any type of coffee bean out there but Medium-dark or dark-roasted Arabica beans are preferred for Espresso.

Here’s a list of my favorite Espresso beans

However, the grind size used for espresso and drip coffee differs considerably.

The grind size of the beans for espresso should be fine or powdery. This grind size allows water to extract the maximum amount of caffeine and flavor.

On the other hand, the grind size for drip coffee beans is medium to medium coarse which prevents over-extraction.

5) The Health Factor | Is espresso healthier than coffee?

Be it any coffee, espresso, or drip, the health benefits are largely attributed to the number of antioxidants and compounds found in coffee beans.

According to multiple studies, coffee has been linked to several health benefits, which include, reducing cancer risk by 18%, and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease.

The main difference between the health benefits of espresso and drip coffee is linked with the caffeine content. As espresso has a high caffeine density, you should stick to drip coffee if you are sensitive to caffeine.

Espresso is typically easier on the stomach than drip coffee. The reason is the shorter brewing time which results in smaller extraction of stomach-sensitive compounds.

Read a detailed guide on the benefits of Espresso

Espresso Machine vs Drip Coffee machine

Now let’s briefly discuss the differences between an Espresso machine and the traditional drip coffee maker

Espresso machine vs drip coffee machine

1) The Brewing Principle

The brewing principle of Espresso machines is a little more complicated than a Drip coffee machine.

In Espresso machines, water is forced to pass through tightly packed fine coffee grounds at a pressure of 9-10 bars while in coffee machines water is dripped through medium coffee grounds at normal pressure.

2) Ease of Use and the Brewing time

Espresso machines are quick they can pull a shot in a matter of seconds while drip machines require water to steep through coffee grounds for some time to extract flavors.

Drip coffee machines are easy to use even a beginner coffee lover can brew a perfect cup of coffee using these machines while operating Espresso machines are little tricky and require some skills.

When you use an espresso machine, you have to grind the coffee beans to perfection and tamp the grounds perfectly into the portafilter, and a beginner can easily mess up these settings resulting in a terrible shot of Espresso.

Super-automatic Espresso machines are available though which can make things a lot easier.

3) The Budget Factor

Espresso machines were designed for pressurized brewing systems that require far more sophisticated machinery and build quality than drip coffee makers, hence the espresso machines are expensive.

Buying a good drip coffee machine costs under 50 dollars, on the other hand, espresso machines cost at least 200 dollars and even 500 dollars if you want a fully automatic machine.

Final Thoughts on Drip Coffee vs Espresso

Espresso and drip coffee both have different brewing methods and distinctive flavor profiles. Both offer distinctive attributes that might pique the interest of various palates.

It is entirely up to you which of the two you choose, the smooth flavor of a drip coffee or the robust, rich flavor of espresso.

Espresso machines are your best bet if you need something more versatile and want to advance your barista skills, but drip coffee machines are the best option if you are on a budget and you can fulfill your caffeine demands with a plain and smooth cup of coffee.

One thing is certain: both brewing methods are a true celebration of the art of coffee brewing.

Also Read other Espresso Comparisons


How many grams of Coffee in a shot of Espresso vs Drip coffee

For espresso, the coffee-to-water ratio is 1:2, whereas, for drip coffee, it’s about 1:15. That’s why Espresso is stronger and more concentrated.

Can you make Espresso in a Drip coffee maker?

No, you can’t make authentic Espresso topped with a layer of crema in a Drip coffee machine as it requires high pressure.
You can make small shots of espresso-styled coffee with low coffee-to-water ratio in a drip coffee machine though.

Johny Morrisson is a passionate coffee enthusiast and an avid blogger dedicated to exploring the world of coffee.

Whether it's repairing or troubleshooting coffee equipment, reviewing cutting-edge brewing machines, or delving into the latest coffee trends, Johny's writing captivates readers and invites them on a flavorful journey.

When he's not writing, Johny enjoys traveling, seeking inspiration from different cultures and coffee traditions worldwide.